Bo’ness unemployed ‘penalised’ by DWP

Job Centre Plus office, Grangemouth
Job Centre Plus office, Grangemouth

Benefit claimants in Bo’ness have told the Journal and Gazette they are being ‘‘victimised’’.

Two weeks ago we reported that some claimants in the Bo’ness area are being forced to choose whether to feed their families or pay bus fares in order that they can adhere to Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) regulations.

A number of claimants have now contacted us complaining that they are being victimised by the department and that they are walking up to 12 miles from Bo’ness to Grangemouth to sign on.

Bill Palombo, manager of the Grangemouth and Bo’ness Citizens Advice Bureau said: “We are concerned that claimants would either have to walk some distance to their nearest Jobcentre, or incur additional costs in public transport from what is a very limited income.

‘‘This has been further exacerbated by the sanctions regime.

The impact on household income can be significant.

‘‘For example, we had a claimant who was single and on JSA of £71.70, who lives in Bo’ness and had to spend bus fare of some £5 return each fortnight to sign on, then to top it all off they were subject to the bedroom tax that means they have to pay an extra £7 per week to avoid rent arrears.

‘‘That is an additional spend of £9.50 perweek, or a 13 per cent reduction in weekly income.’’

The DWP said there are no current plans to re-open Bo’ness Jobcentre.

A spokesman for the department said: ‘‘ Claimants are not paid fares for attending on their usual ‘signing days’ but will receive payment for additional interviews.

‘‘We try to see everyone on their signing days. Jobseekers must do all they can to look for work, including attending their appointments and we will do all we can to help them back to work.”